|Review: Funeral Mist - Maranatha|
Label: Norma Evangelium Diaboli
Year released: 2009
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: March 15, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Rated 4.26/5 (85.26%) (19 Votes)
Funeral Mist's Salvation album is considered by many to be a classic of orthodox Black Metal, uncompromising in its vision and execution, and while I agree with that sentiment for the most part, I found that album to be an exhausting listen and a little one dimensional. For those living in a cave, Arioch, Funeral Mist's only member, performed the vocal duties on Marduk's last two albums under the pseudonym Mortuus, and with Maranatha he has evolved Funeral Mist's sound, taking some influence from Marduk's last couple of platters and crafted an album that delivers the best of both worlds.
The album kicks off with a man screaming "it's the blood" over and over in a fanatic tone accompanied by some sickening demonic growls that verge on retching with assorted bells and other disturbing background effects, and it is terribly effective. "It's the blood of Jesus!" Then they waits no longer and blast into the furious, swarming maelstrom of chaotic Black Metal that we want to hear. Razor sharp guitars and blasting drums are Arioch's gift to the faithful along with his unique and demented vocals that twist and churn, barking his hymns to Satan with fanatical zeal. They are not quite as mind bending as they were on Salvation, due largely to Marduk's Rom 5:12 immunising us slightly, but it is nonetheless a stellar performance, with the double tracked parts on "Sword of Faith" sounding utterly hellborn. Musically Maranatha is a more mature work than Salvation. It seems Arioch was not content to rest upon his laurels and regurgitate the same unyieldingly vicious vision as his previous works, as he slows the pace more often here and mixes in some sickening sections such as the lo-fi corruption of "White Stone". Fans need not be concerned about anything ridiculous like selling out though (if there is any doubts the 8+ minutes of utterly berserk blasphemy found within "Jesus Saves!" should calm your fears) – this is still an ugly and spite filled black mass of an album, it is just simply painted with a wider palate of shades of evil. The diversity on offer is exemplified by the aforementioned track with its odd accordion-like guitar riff in the midsection that is underpinned by a rumbling and spacey bass. The perverse sermon that heralds the near twelve minutes of "Blessed Curse" continues on for two minutes into some classic mid-paced Black Metal riffing that will get your head nodding quite vigourously, although the melodic similarities to "Accuser/Opposer" cannot be ignored. The album further shows the maturity of songwriting and dynamic with the fierce blasting of "Living Temples" and the eerie choral chants and uncomfortable slow-paced riffing of album closer "Anti-Flesh Nimbus" with some stately drums and trumpets to close the album in a theatrical manner.
The production is better here with an actual bottom end to hold it up, but at no stage does it approach anything that may be considered modern or clean. The bass is ably represented throughout lending to the albums weight and frequently doing more than simply following the guitars. Those guitars shift in tone from song to song, and sometimes within a single song such as the crushing wall of sound that introduces "A New Light" before diving into a whirlwind of raw blasting. The song is actually very reminiscent of Marduk on tunes like "Vanity of Vanities", and I can see how this may put Funeral Mist purists off just a little, but the eighth note driven mid section that pulses under some angelic choirs distances the track from that comparison slightly and further highlights the dynamic of the album.
Maranatha is not Salvation or Devilry and whether you consider it to be a pro- or regression will depend very much on how much you enjoyed Rom 5:12 as it is very difficult to escape the similarities. For my money there is more than enough blistering speed and caustic riffing to satisfy the most demented devotee with enough diversity and experimentation to keep it interesting and dynamic. Do yourself a favour and immerse yourself within the bile of Maranatha.
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